Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Struggling on

April 5th, 2003

HIGHLAND CATTLE in the wildest parts of the Lake District seemed rather far from home – but there they were beside the Kirkstone Pass road. The start of the Pass, which climbs from Ambleside and drops down to Ullswater, is known as The Struggle, and it's easy to understand why. What a struggle it must have been for horses pulling carts up that terrible incline in the early days of the road.

It can be compared with the hill up to Balintore Castle behind Lintrathen Reservoir. My Father called it the Hill of a Hundred Horses because that was the number they say died hauling the stone to build the castle.

Flowering daffodils make yellow splashes of colour in fields behind the house. These are not for picking. The bulbs will be lifted and sold for next spring's gardens and planters. There is the annual display of these flowers along the Kingsway in Dundee. Several varieties have been planted, and as some die more colour follows on, prolonging the cheery welcome to the city.

Smoke drifting across the hillside somewhere about Glen Lethnot, I judged, was probably the start of the muirburn. Gamekeepers burn old heather (or muir/moor) to encourage young growth on which the grouse feed. They eat only heather, and just like us humans they enjoy nothing better than fresh, organic food that needs little or no preparation.

Macbeth has just been clipped. It was hard to believe the change in him when I got him home. Like something off the front of a chocolate box. So different from his normal mobile midden state.

Sheba has been on pain killers and is moving much more comfortably, which is a relief. She may shortly be able to jump in and out of the car unaided once more. I was beginning to think I would blow a gasket if I had to heave her about the place much longer.

I had a phone call from Arthur Grewar who is a keen observer of nature from the cab of his tractor. He had seen a leveret, or young hare, lying in its “flap”, which is just a depression in the grass which the hare flattens itself into, and can practically disappear from sight.

We talk of “mad March hares” performing their courtship rituals in the month of March, so this youngster was conceived and born completely outwith the normal timetable. Perhaps the mild winter weather we're experiencing these days fools the parent animals into thinking it's time to breed far ahead of the customary cycle.

While we – the Doyenne and I, that is – were in the Lake District, enjoying a family wedding, and the party with malice aforethought that followed, the dogs were having a party at Aunty Maisie's kennels. When we collect them they are delirious with greetings. Everyone is happy.

Glancing out of the window, there is a cock pheasant with a harem of four hens. He'll have his time cut out for himself shortly!

Written on Saturday, April 5th, 2003 at 8:04 am for Weekly.